Rationale Behind Racial Problems

By [email protected]


This letter is in response to Adam Benson&s article &Mormons Discuss Racial Inequality& on January 15, 2003. I was a bit disappointed that Benson never pointed out the rationale behind the past (and present in some cases) racial problems within the LDS community (perhaps the panel discussion did this). In &many& cases, I agree with the comment made by Darron Smith that “Mormons are no more prejudiced or racist than anyone else in the country&. The problem is that I know many Mormons who still hold to the teachings of past LDS leaders such as Bruce McConkie (e.g., &Mormon Doctrine&, 24th printing [1978], 527-8) or Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith (&Doctrines of Salvation&, vol. 1, 66-7), viz., that black people got to be the race they are due to the fact that they &were less valiant in the pre-existence& (McConkie). And even though many LDS are not aware of this, their own Scripture is racist as well. The Book of Mormon tells of certain people whose &skins& became dark as a &curse& for their own wickedness (Alma 3:6ff. and 2 Nephi 5:21ff.). Both passages imply a forbidding of interbreeding between white and dark races with the resulting seed inheriting the same curse. And 3 Nephi 2:14-16 says that as certain people repented their &skin& became &white& and &exceedingly fair&.

I also found it incredible that &Wrathall compared King’s work in achieving equality and social justice with Brigham Young’s original message.& Perhaps this is true in not separating the spiritual and the economic as Wrathall pointed out, but Young was total racist. He stated that blacks are &uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind… they should be the &servant of servants;& and they will be, until that curse is removed… they never can hold the Priesthood or share in it until the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the Priesthood and the keys thereof& (&Journal of Discourses&, vol. 13, 95).

R.M. Sivulka, Ph.D. student, Philosophy